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Published:July 31st, 2009 20:14 EST
Cuban doctors need English!

Cuban doctors need English!

By Yasmin Esack

Cuban doctors are much touted about these days. These `barefoot doctors` as some call them are part of Castro`s, Raul that is, expansion plan for the communist island. Cuban doctors are to put it simply, an export commodity.

Barefoot or not these doctors do a great job reaching the poor and sick in many areas across Latin America, something the Castro government should feel proud about. In Trinidad and Tobago and elsewhere in the Caribbean there is a desperate shortage of medical personnel as many leave for better lives in the UK and the US. Cuban doctors are being considered as the logical replacement for those who have left.

The furor currently taking place in the medical fraternity here in Trinidad and Tobago is over their lack of English Language something which the government of Trinidad and Tobago wishes to by-pass. But not so easy.

The Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago an independent body is insisting on tests of English Proficiency. They are also concerned that these doctors finish their program of training in four years when the required time is seven.

Where will Cubans learn English?

It is common knowledge that Latin Americans and the Spanish speaking Caribbean countries give little consideration to English Language as compared to European countries and Asia.

In fact Brazil`s President Lula DaSilva said openly that he didn`t see the importance of English. In Venezuela on my last visit I saw a guy dressed in surgical wear so I assumed he was a doctor. He told me he wasn`t and that he was frequently asked to be present for surgical procedures because he knew English.

It is for this reason Schools like Northern Technology flourish. In the past ten years the school has seen one Cuban as compared to hundreds of Venezuelans and Colombians. U.S. President George Bush on his visit to Latin America before he exited the glare of political life gave some 200 million dollars to Colombia to implement an English Programme.

Well let`s wait and see what happens to the fate of Cuban doctors who are hoping to come to Trinidad and Tobago to practice.

Will keep you posted.

Yasmin Esack